US Catholic Faith in Real Life

AZ Gov. Jan Brewer to DREAMers: We don’t want you here

By Meghan Murphy-Gill | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Photo courtesy of WBEZ

Beginning yesterday, young adult Latinos who don’t possess paperwork for U.S. citizenship because their parents immigrated when they were children, were able to file applications with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for work permits and deportation deferrals. Regulations on these young adults who have grown up in the United States were eased when President Obama announced his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.

Here in Chicago, the line extended the entire length of the city’s Navy Pier, more than a half-mile long, and beyond, taking reporters a full 30 minutes just to walk from the beginning to the end. It was a moving site. The line was so long, applicants had to be turned away. Young people had shown up hours before the process began.

The New York Times reported, “Thousands of immigrants also waited in lines outside the offices of immigrants’ groups and flooded churches and law offices in Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Boston and Houston, among other cities.”

But Arizona governor Jan Brewer, notorious for her tough (and some—like me and the U.S. Bishops—might say, wrong) stance on immigration, has issued an executive order denying benefits to the DREAMers, claiming that because the Obama’s order does not give the DREAMers legal residency, they’re not eligible for public benefits. Oh, and she, like the throngs of grandchildren and great grandchildren of immigrants themselves who claim their ancestors “came here legally” (Show me your papers!), are worried these fellow sisters and brothers who actually have more claim to North American heritage might be a drain on the system. In other words, they cost too much. Of course, this completely ignores just how much they actually contribute to the economy.

Included in the benefits Brewer seeks to deny Latinos are drivers licenses, immigration lawyers in Arizona say she can’t do. The state’s East Valley Tribune:

'Regina Jefferies acknowledged that those who will be part of the deferred action program will not have legal status. What they have, however, is "lawful presence.''

"They've got permission to be here,'' she said.

In fact, Jefferies said the whole concept of deferred action, while vastly expanded under the president's announcement, is not new. She said federal immigration officials have similarly classified others in the past, such as victims of domestic violence, and made their presence legal.

Jefferies said that classification will not entitle those in the new program to things like food stamps. But she said anyone who is granted deferred action can sue -- she believes successfully -- if the state denies any of these people a driver's license.'

Chicago Public Radio’s blogger Achy Obejas thinks that the move “is designed more to mess with the president at the expense of immigrants than to actually do anything about those immigrants.” Given the all of the anti-immigrant sentiment coming out of that state, I’m not so sure. 

Republicans like Brewer as well as Democrats should be wary though, if not now, then in the future if they can't get their act together on immigration reform. Each month 50,000 Latinos in this country reach voting age and 700,000 immigrants naturalize each year.  Failing to pass the DREAM Act seems only to be the first of their problems.

RELATED: Dream deferred: An interview withe Rep. Luis Gutierrez